President-scout was laid to rest in Polish soil
Late Ryszard Kaczorowski, the last Polish President-in-Exile, the Chief Scout of the Polish Scouting Association in exile, returned to his Homeland for good. On 15 April 2010 the coffin with the body of President Kaczorowski, covered by a white-red flag, was transported to Belweder Palace after a moving welcome at the military Okecie airport. And so the last soldier-wonderer, a deportee to Siberia, a veteran of the battle of Monte Cassino, was placed where in 1935 the body of Marshal Jozef Pilsudski was laid in 1935. Along the route of the hearse – similarly when the bodies of the Presidential Couple and the other victims of the crash at Smolensk were transported –countless inhabitants of Warsaw gathered. The coffin with the body of President Kaczorowski was exposed to public view in Belweder Palace.
The ceremony at the airport gathered his closest family, the representatives of the state authorities, and the ecumenical prayers were said by Archbishop Jozef Kowalczyk, Archbishop Kazimierz Nycz and Fr Eustachy Rakoczy, the Jasna Gora chaplain of the Soldiers of Independence. The next day the coffin was transported to the Basilica of the Holy Cross in Krakowskie Przedmiescie where Archbishop Edward Ozorowski of Bialystok (because of the birthplace of Ryszard Kaczorowski and honorary citizenship of Bialystok) celebrated Mass. After the celebrations in the Church of the Holy Cross the coffin returned to Belweder. On Monday, 19 April, after the Mass in the Archcathedral of St John the body of President Kaczorowski was transported to the Shrine of Divine Providence in Warsaw-Wilanow and laid to rest there. All people remember President Ryszard Kaczorowski as a politician of unblemished reputation, an example of patriot, a real gentleman. His priority was the matters of the Homeland, then his family and finally his own affairs. He was very popular and patriotic Poles could not regret that he did not want to take part in the presidential election in Poland. He had big chances to win the election, perhaps for one reason: having several dozen honorary citizenships in Poland. Although he lived in London he participated in all important historical events in Poland. He held representative functions. He was interested in national matters but he had a strict principle: not to interfere in our national political disputes.
Fr Eustachy Rakoczy from Jasna Gora called President Kaczorowski ‘Pater Patriae’ – Father of Homeland, because he was a tireless promoter of Polishness and he was the most unequivocal symbol of independent Poland abroad. ‘The person of Ryszard Kaczorowski, an extraordinary citizen of Bialystok, an exemplary scout and instructor of the Polish Scouting Association, conspirator and prisoner of the Soviet camps, a deportee and a soldier of the 2nd Corps, a member of the National Council fulfilling the duties of the Polish President-in-Exile, personifies most completely the Polish dimension of the idea of independence understood as an element of the social-historic remembrance and inspiration to activities defined as «patriotism of tomorrow»’, we can read in ‘Nasz Dziennik’ on 13 April 2010.
President Kaczorowski used to make pilgrimages to Jasna Gora. From 2000 he was a confrater of the Pauline Order. He always testified about the historical memory of the Nation at Jasna Gora, the spiritual capital of Poland. When he spoke he appeared as an unquestionable teacher of truth, justice and honour. When he celebrated his 90th birthday Archbishop Jozef Michalik, President of the Polish Bishops’ Conference, wrote about him, ‘Only a man of great strength of spirit, supported by his vivid faith in God, could survive such a hard and gruelling way, the beginning of which was the conspiracy activities in the Polish Scouting Association during the Nazi occupation, filled by suffering during his stay in the Soviet labour camps. Then he made the route of many battles, full of efforts and sacrifice, with the Third Carpathian Rifle Division of the Polish 2nd Corps, including the battle of Monte Cassino. He devoted his post-war years to work in the Polish Government-in-Exile and his activities of the President-in-Exile. The content of those years was his faithfulness to Christian roots, the Polish heritage and national culture.’
Today we know that the life of the last Polish President-in-Exile was bridged by the tragic dates: 1940-2010. The life he was given in 1940 was filled by his service to God and Homeland, which was acknowledged by the honorary degree in the humanities at the Cardinal Stefan Wyszynski University in Warsaw. The conferral ceremony was held in 2008, in the Royal Castle with the presence of President Lech Kaczynski who told about the historical gesture of President Kaczorowski in December 1990 when after the first free presidential elections Kaczorowski passed the presidential insignia to Lech Walesa. The laudatory speech was delivered by Rev. Prof. Ryszard Rumianek, Rector of the Cardinal Stefan Wyszynski University in Warsaw, who also lost his life in the plane crash at Smolensk. President Kaczorowski was to go to Katyn with his wife Karolina and daughter. His wife got sick and his daughter, having a British passport, did not manage to obtain a Russian visa…
President Ryszard Kaczorowski helped to construct the National Shrine of Divine Providence. His body was laid to rest in the national pantheon in the shrine.